Can humans achieve vertebrate tissue regeneration?

Posted Mar 30, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Some animals can regenerate tissues after severe organ loss or amputation while others, such as humans, cannot. The reasons have long puzzled scientists. Researchers have some new ideas that might one day lead to human tissue regeneration.
A female specimen of a zebrafish (Danio rerio) breed with fantails
A female specimen of a zebrafish (Danio rerio) breed with fantails
The answers might come from the study of zebrafish. As the Digital Journal has reported, zebrafish are able to regenerate organs, and that electrical currents may play a role in this process, but the exact mechanisms are unclear.
The zebrafish is quite remarkable. The fish has two molecular pathways that work in concert to allow adult zebra fish to perfectly replace bones lost upon fin amputation. One pathway resets existing bone cells to a developmental stem cell-like state and then supports their growth to replace lost cells. The second directs the newly formed cells to turn back into functional, organized bone. The process is unique to animals like zebra fish and could be the key to their ability to perfectly restore lost tissue.
By using both biophysical and molecular approaches, researchers have shown that zebrafish regenerates its caudal fin by a process that involves a specific channel in the cell membrane. This channel, which has been called V-ATPase, pumps hydrogen ions out of the cells generating an electrical current.
The science team think that by understanding these mechanisms they might be instrumental for the development of new therapeutic strategies, both in regenerative and developmental medicine, for people.
The study was undertaken by researchers based Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC, Portugal) and the findings have been published in the journal PLOS One. The paper is titled “V-ATPase Proton Pumping Activity Is Required for Adult Zebrafish Appendage Regeneration”.